Vegas Beat — March/April 2010
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Navigating Your Way Through Child Support Issues
Greta Muirhead, Esq.

I have been asked to write for Vegas Beat. The purpose of my articles is to inform, train and hopefully entertain. Most importantly, however, my goal is to give you the information that you need in your professional and personal lives, without a lot of fluff, boring legalese or sugar coating. If I do fall into the legalese trap, it’s merely to give you the supporting authority for some of the statements that I make and/or legal positions that I take. By way of introduction, I have been a licensed attorney in private practice in the Las Vegas area since October 1990.

While I have handled a variety of cases, and have quite a few interesting “cocktail stories,” my focus, for most of those years, has been family law and guardianships.

I have just enough background in other areas, including real estate, evictions, misdemeanor criminal defense, contracts and bankruptcy to make me a bit dangerous! I am the proverbial “Jane of all trades and Master of some.” In addition to my private practice, I have been hearing child support cases as an alternate family court hearing master since March of 2002. As an alternate child support hearing master, I fill in when the regular child support hearing masters are ill, on vacation or at seminars. I have seen several LVMPD correction officers, street officers and detectives in the child support courtroom standing behind the table labeled “defendant” or “respondent.” Just because you are there doesn’t mean that you are a bad guy or gal. It merely means that the custodial parent is exercising his or her statutory right in Nevada to have the state collect child support via a wage withholding. Remember, you could be current (not behind) in your child support obligation and still end up in UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act) — more commonly known as child support court. Having your wages garnished through the child support court isn’t necessarily the kiss of death so many parents think it is.

In child support court, the hearing master will either enforce an existing order or will work, under certain circumstances, with you to create a new one.

Always bring six months’ worth of paycheck stubs with you — and if you have a new baby or kids from a more recent relationship, bring copies of their birth certificates. Don’t forget also to bring proof of the health insurance, dental and optical premium costs to insure your dependent children. If you are married and your new spouse is eligible to cover the children on his or her plan, bring that information with you, too. Nearly always, the court will give you a one-half credit of the premium cost of the insurance if you can isolate the cost to enroll and maintain your biological children on your insurance or your spouse’s. Please make sure that the custodial parent knows that the children are on your insurance or their stepparent’s and that the custodial parent has the necessary card, claims forms, etc. The one-half credit for the premium cost is taken straight off the top of your ultimate monthly child support obligation.

Speaking of credit, please do not try to convince the court that just because you support your stepchildren, your live-in partner’s children or your aging parents that you are entitled to a “credit” or offset for them. Per Nevada law, you are only entitled to a possible credit, offset or reduction in your monthly child support obligation if you have a legal obligation to support another. While some of your paycheck may be going to take care of the stepchildren in your household, you do not have a legal obligation to support them. They do not count for purposes of an offset. Nor, too, does the cell phone you provide your kid or the Wii you bought for Christmas.

In the coming months P# 6099, I will be talking about different child support issues, including how child support is calculated, when and if overtime is included and what happens if you have your kid 40% or more of the time. Also, I will discuss why, surprisingly, you should be happy that the district attorney is establishing your child support arrears (old child support) and setting your interest and penalties.

I will also be addressing and helping you to properly interpret Nevada guardianship orders and other family court orders. You will learn what the term “co-guardianship” means and doesn’t mean. Hopefully, by learning some of the nuances in the Clark County family law system, you will be better able to serve not only the public, but your own needs as well.

If you have questions that you would like answered in the coming months, please direct them to me. My e-mail address is greta@toughtimeslegal.com. I will do my best to answer as many of the questions that I can privately. Those questions that I believe present good learning opportunities or are just simply really great questions will be published, anonymously, in the next issue or issues of Vegas Beat. The winner or winners of some of the best questions I receive or whomever give or gives the best answers to the “What would a smart cop have done?” game that we will be playing in the next few months will win gift cards to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Baja Fresh. All winners are solely determined by me, and all gift cards are from my “stash” that I have acquired through my various trips to Costco.

On a closing note, since I am not a member of LVMPD or LVPPA, all opinions, advice and expressions are solely my own — and LVMPD, LVPPA or Vegas Beat should not be viewed as endorsing me or my advice.

I look forward to hearing from you all.
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